How good was hanging around over coffee?

Let’s not forget the value of human relationships and all that they bring. As strong as the pull of the transactional, addressing the real opportunities in our lives, work and society will depend on relationships founded in generosity, trust and empathy.

Teams of One

It can be easy to see the world in transactional terms. We are isolated in our algorithmic bubbles, purchasing online, running from online meeting to online meeting and powering through daily to do lists. Isolation has stripped the casual conversation, the social interaction and the human relationships from our days. We even debate the value of and need for the wave at the end of an online meeting – part symbolic closure but also an important relationship gesture of recognition and acknowledgement.

One of the challenges of chat platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams is that, when poorly used, they can reinforce transactional relationships in smaller and smaller silos all the way down to an atomised organisation of one. At the other end of the spectrum a life of all Zoom or Teams calls can be lacking in context and overly formulaic as people need to get through agendas. Without investment in rapport, team understanding and rich human interaction they can be highly transactional. If people aren’t supporting a balanced relationship with chat with open discussions and agendaless video discussion, a lot of opportunity to build teams, to share concerns, to resolve issues and to create is lost.

Better Change Needs Better Relationships

An overlooked part of my Value Maturity Model of Collaboration is that effective collaboration is underpinned by growing human relationships, trust and understanding over time. You don’t create an agile, innovative and responsive organisation without changing relationships and particularly relationships of trust. Here’s a test: Can you move resources or functions and their associated accountabilities around your organisation without a fight? In high enough trust environments, people know the job will get done equally well by others. They don’t need to do everything themselves.

Why does this trust matter? You can’t create scalable change or innovation with everything staying the same as it is now. All that negotiation of resource reallocation and accountability change is a massive tax on your organisation’s ability to change and to innovate. Many people will decide it is not worth the effort if they know there is a fight, that power will decide or if they don’t trust others. Just as a lack of psychological safety stops ideas being shared and problems being discussed, lack of trust stops the change and adaptation required.

We need scalable change and innovation more than ever. Whether it is tackling the major issues of our times, delivering better for customers or adapting to changing markets or work, scalable change and innovation is essential. If we lose the relationships that underpin this change we have created new and hidden risks across our organisations and for our people. Importantly our focus on relationships will strengthen our efforts on the generosity, love and respect that will enable us to leverage people’s potential.

In our personal lives, social lives and communities, we need to keep our focus on relationships. We need to invest against the transactional forces in our lives at this time. The change we want depends more than ever on the quality of our relationships.

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